Events

Distance Project 22

Social Distancing Project 180On the last day before the second lockdown, I found some of Bucks County Council’s signs in Buckingham. It’s difficult to keep your distance in some parts of this town, where the pavements are extremely narrow and the roads are often too busy to step into. This is West Street.

 

No Armistice in Sight For Covid.

After a hopeful Summer, we headed back towards a stricter regime. Bucks County Council were concerned enough to take action in October, sending out letters to householders and erecting signs warning about the increasing number of infections.

They were right to be concerned, as the number of cases in the UK had taken off in mid September, followed not long after by the number of deaths. The Government had to do something, and the second lockdown began on the 5th of November, to run for four weeks.

This meant that the Armistice Day ceremonies, planned to be held in a limited fashion, could not go ahead as usual on the 11th November. But I took a walk via the local war memorial on the day.

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The Distance Project 20

Social Distancing Project 168In the warmer months when we were allowed to meet in each other’s back gardens, my brother and his family would visit me once a week. You can see the project photo here. But now the evenings are darker and colder that’s not so practical or pleasant.

The Autumn weather is probably one reason the rules were changed, so that we could meet up in each other’s homes. Here, the two boys are back at university so there’s just the three of us, but now I go to my brother’s house; my place isn’t quite right for remaining socially distanced. Before Covid-19, we would sit close together on these two settees.

 

Interactions

There’s no sign of the lockdown going away; in fact it’s been tightened in some areas, though here in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire we are still at the lowest level of restrictions. Let’s hope it stays that way.

For a long time, for months and months, I did not go into anybody else’s home. I was slow to change, and it was some time after we were officially permitted to visit other people inside their homes that I started doing so.

So far I’ve been into three other people’s houses. I’m due to visit a couple more this week, but that will probably be it, for now.

I’ve been to the pub a couple of times, The Barley Mow at Cosgrove. Though I got some good shots for the project, the pub is in Northamptonshire so I can’t show you them here.

But how do I feel about the lockdown?

 

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The Distance Project 18

Social Distancing Project 154In the church hall at Little Horwood, the sub-postmaster from Deanshanger provides a post office service for a few hours, one day a week. The table helps to ensure customers stay back, and provides a place for them to use the card reader while still keeping their distance.

Carrying on With the New Normal

Here’s a few Distance Project photos from a month or two ago that I haven’t shown you before. The first two are from Little Horwood, and the others are from Winslow. I’ve shown you photos from both places before, but these were all taken on a later date.

As the lockdown rules change, behaviour has changed. As I wrote this, I heard on the radio that the government are considering stricter lockdown rules. They say they want to prevent a second wave.

Just when I thought I would soon be running out of things to photograph for this project, it looks like there will be more to come. I didn’t think the pandemic would last this long, and I’d rather photograph something else now. But I have to carry on.

My other photos from the Distance Project can all be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

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The Distance Project 17

Social Distancing Project 145There’s a moment between the end of the first part of the ceremony and the procession down to the lake, where nothing seems to happen. They are just getting organised, but with only 18 lanterns instead of 200, they’ll soon be on their way.

Lights on the Water.

The Hiroshima Day ceremony at the Peace Pagoda, by Willen Lake in Milton Keynes was officially cancelled this year. I expected a small invite only ceremony of a similar scale to the Pagoda Ceremony, back in June; there had been just six there.

But I was wrong.

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The Distance Project 16

Social Distancing Project 137I followed some of the temple folk up to the pagoda. In any other year I would have expected at least a hundred people. Officially, there were just ten.

 

The Day the Bomb Dropped

The 6th of August is a day burned into memory. On that day in 1945, the first atomic bomb used in war was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan.

That’s why on the 6th of August every year there’s a ceremony at the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes, to commemorate the victims of that day. Volunteers at the Buddhist temple call it the Lantern Ceremony.

After prayers and chanting, peace lanterns are carried down to the lake and floated out across the water as the sun sets behind the pagoda. The light in each lantern is meant to, aided by prayer, guide the souls of victims in the right direction, in order to ease their suffering.

Buddhism is a most compassionate religion.

Six weeks earlier, I’d gone, for the Distance Project, to see what would happen on the day of the long planned 40th Peace Pagoda Ceremony. I was surprised and pleased to find a very small, invite only ceremony, although the event had been officially cancelled because of the lockdown. It was all they could do.

I expected a similar scene when I went to the Lantern Ceremony and that’s what I found, but a few more people had turned up to the pagoda on the off-chance, too. Still, there were nowhere near as many there as usual. All around were other groups and small gatherings doing their own thing; exercising or picnicing in the public park.

This week I’m just showing you the first part of the ceremony, up at the Peace Pagoda. I’ll show you the second part of the ceremony down at the lake, next week.

All the posts from the Distance Project can be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

 

Social Distancing Project 138Setting up was still going on. Chairs were well spread out. I think that’s a tai chi group in the background.

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The Distance Project 15

Social Distancing Project 127If the ceremony had gone ahead as planned, this scene would have been packed with hundreds of people. The low platform, recently rebuilt for the ceremony, would have been filled with Buddhist monks and nuns, some from Japan or other countries with peace pagodas.
The man beyond the platform wearing dark trousers and a white shirt is from the Parks Trust; it’s their land. Like me, he was there to observe, but not participate. Anyone else you can see here is just a passer by.

The Peace Pagoda Ceremony

It’s been forty years since the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes was finished. This year’s ceremony, the 40th at Willen, was planned to be an important milestone event. Hundreds of people from all over the world would attend and I was looking forward to it.

But the lockdown put paid to that idea. Officially, there was to be no ceremony at all this year. But I turned up to take photographs anyway, to see if anything would happen.

I thought I would perhaps see a monk or a nun chanting for a few minutes, or I would be sat there all afternoon on my own. Either way, I would take photos, if only to record an absence.

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